This marathon is on but set to require vaccination or negative test for COVID-19

The Glass City Marathon in Toledo, Ohio, scheduled for April 25, has long been a popular race due to its flat course and fast times that result in many participants qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Now, the race is garnering significant attention for another reason. It’s one of if not the first to require entrants to present a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the start of the race or proof of vaccination. 

"It's the right thing to do," said race director Clint McCormick, in an article in the Toledo Blade. "I work closely with the health department and Mercy Health is our title sponsor. There wasn't [any] 'You have to do this or we're pulling permits' kind of language, but we've been talking about how we could do this the right way as the bellwether event.

Marathons, aside from the mass start, are usually spread out, and they are outdoors and include healthy individuals. So, it does make sense that there is some inherent safety. The key concerns remain aid stations, safety of volunteers, mass starts and the finishing area. 

The reaction to the move is interesting to note. When it was announced, some were angered over the timing just six weeks before race day and that it was made after many had already registered. Most were already okay with the race as it stood with safety protocols such as masking, waivers stating participants had no symptoms and the fact that the race was outdoors. 

This is in stark contrast to Canada where it seems as though mass start races such as marathons are still not even being considered. Of course, vaccinations south of the border are far ahead of Canada. That being said, Ohio is at a similar spot with regards to case numbers as Ontario, with a smaller population. And the state has had three times the number of cases. 

One runner, Jen Demarco-McFuckin commented:

“This is an absolutely over-reactive decision. This is an outdoor race, with Covid safety protocols already in place (i.e., masks at start and finish, reduced field of runners, many corrals, signed waivers stating no symptoms, etc.). You’ve just added an unnecessary layer that will cost the runners more money, more time and unneeded stress in a time where COVID stats are reducing significantly. So, hmm, last minute decision for an OUTDOOR event - required covid tests for all runners who haven’t had COVID and haven’t had the vaccine. Fingers crossed, we get results in time for the race. And fingers crossed there are no false positives (which happens too often).”

Many also applauded the move. 

For instance, Ashton Swinford commented:

“I love the requirement for COVID negative test or proof of vaccine. SMART!!! It is very nice that you’re offering testing at packet pick up. Wonderful thinking!”

The race is already sold out with 500 on the waiting list so it seems like it will work out just fine, but the question remains how many of those who have registered will be able to get tested or vaccinated in time to meet the new regulation. 

Other safety protocols in place at Glass City include the physical distancing of aide station tables, and self-serve bottles of water for runners, which will still have caps on them. No gel offered on course, instead one packet will be given to each person in the race packet. 

There will be different locations for the various starts whether marathon, relay, or half-marathon. There will still be a packet pick-up and expo, but it will be outside, and it will be run over several days so people will have time and space required to keep safe.

There are screening and masking rules in place for runners, volunteers and spectators. 

For a complete list of safety measures go here

No matter the outcome, the Glass City Marathon is being considered a bellwether event, and one that race directors on both sides of the border will be watching in earnest. 


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